Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ahhh. Is this the wee beastie?

Via Telegraph: Has Google Found the Loch Ness Monster?

Toni Morrison on NPR

Image and quote via NPR

"When I'm not creating or focusing on something I can imagine or invent, I think I go back over my life — I don't recommend this, by the way — and you pick up, 'Oh, what did you do that for? Why didn't you understand this?' Not just with children, as a parent, but with other people, with friends. ... It's not profound regret; it's just a wiping up of tiny little messes that you didn't recognize as mess when they were going on."

I love today's Google Doodle

As a kid, the 001 and 133 sections of the card catalog were my favorite: vampires, UFOs, Atlantis, Bigfoot and Nessie were some of my favorite reads.

In maturing, I've upgraded to the 398 section: fairy tales and folklore.

Or haven't. Depending on your perspective.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

And the spoiler shall come upon every city...

Via Slate's You're not afraid of spoilers; you're afraid of the future

Game of Thrones presents a particularly striking example of the complicated interplay between time and spoilers. Because the television series has hewn unusually closely to the books on which it’s based (though that may be changing), those who’ve read its source material come to each episode with a great deal of knowledge about what to expect. This threatens to layer spoilers on top of spoilers in discussions of the show, as readers gleefully anticipate events that mere viewers could never predict. Before long, that situation will be reversed, as the show will surpass the plot of the novels. Because the show’s creators claim they’ll be working from George R.R. Martin’s plot outlines, this means those who prefer the books may have the subsequent volumes spoiled years before they have the opportunity to read them. Their less well-read siblings, however, will be safer than ever before, finally watching the story as it unfolds.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Tove Jansson is the Best Person Ever

Via A Different Stripe where you can also read the 2015 PEN Literary Awards Longlist

Oyster Review: 100 Best Books of the Decade...

...so far.

The Trolls of the Hugo Awards

So apparently a bunch of straight, white, conservative guys came up out of their parents' basements and decided to take over the Hugo Awards.

Read about it via Slate - also that's where the image comes from too.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Conservatives in the Stacks

Image via Brick Row Book Shop

Via American Libraries

If we would stop condemning conservatives and begin talking to them, I am confident that we can convince them that libraries fit very nicely into their political agenda:

  • Conservatives say they are into self improvement—the great American pastime of pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps. The library is probably the number one self-help institution in America. It’s where immigrants go to learn how to assimilate and succeed.
  • Conservatives say they believe strongly in family values. What institution in America does more to serve families than libraries? We cater to the needs of everyone in the extended family from infants to great-grandparents. Go to any (open) public library on a Saturday morning, and you will see that it is filled with families.
  • Conservatives say that they believe in fiscal responsibility. What American institution does more with less than the library? What government agency serves more people? What city department gives you more bang for the buck?
  • Conservatives say they believe in the Bill of Rights and in particular the protection of their religious liberties afforded by the First Amendment. What profession does more to protect First Amendment rights than the library profession? Our profession’s First Amendment emphasis may differ from the conservative movement’s emphasis, but here at least is a place to start a constructive give and take of views.
  • Conservatives say they believe strongly in the importance of religion. What institution does more to provide a wide range of information about all the world’s religions than the library?

In related news, this is what so-called conservatives aren't happy about when it comes to Kentucky libraries: KY Appeals Court: Library Taxes Legal

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

After such a long day of such serious blogging...

...I'll leave this right here.

Younger's Nico Tortorella via Buzzfeed

If you click over, just skip all the questions and go for the gifs.

So, Trevor Noah is gorgeous

Image via The Times

So this should be interesting.

Pedal backwards faster, PEDAL BACKWARDS FASTER

Image of Mike Pence doing a crossword puzzle poorly from The Daily Beast

Facing a national uproar over a religious freedom law, Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana said Tuesday that he wanted the measure changed by week’s end, even as he stepped up a vigorous defense of the law, rejecting claims that it would allow business to deny services to gays and lesbians.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be helpful to move legislation this week that makes it clear that this law does not give businesses the right to discriminate against anyone,” Mr. Pence, a Republican, said at a news conference in Indianapolis.

He acknowledged that the law, called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, had become a threat to the state’s reputation and economy, with companies and organizations signaling that they would avoid Indiana in response to it. Mr. Pence said he had been on the phone with business leaders from around the country, adding, “We want to make it clear that Indiana’s open for business.”

But the governor, clearly exasperated and sighing audibly in response to questions, seemed concerned mostly with defending the law and the intent behind it, saying, “We’ve got a perception problem,” not one of substance. He referred to “gross mischaracterizations,” “reckless reporting by some in the media,” “completely false and baseless” accounts of the law, and “the smear that’s been leveled against this law and against the people of Indiana.”

“Don’t leave us. Stay with us until we get past this thing.”

Via the New York Times

More than 80 people [in a community of about 4200] in Scott County have tested positive for H.I.V. since December, mostly in the last few weeks. They range in age from 20 to 56, and health officials say almost all of them live in Austin, which sits along Interstate 65 about 80 miles south of Indianapolis, surrounded by rural space. The outbreak, the worst in Indiana’s history, stems largely from the intravenous use of the prescription painkiller Opana, which everyone from the police to pastors to the owner of the city’s sole grocery recognizes as a plague on one ragged neighborhood in particular.

Trickle to Torrent

Via the New York Times: Gay Marriage State by State: a trickle became a torrent

Rand Paul is only a libertarian when HE benefits

Image and quote from Buzzfeed

"Lifestyle"? Really? What is this 1994?

Sen. Rand Paul said he doesn’t buy into the concept of gay rights because they are defined by a gay person’s lifestyle.

“I don’t think I’ve ever used the word gay rights, because I don’t really believe in rights based on your behavior,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters in a videotaped interview that has received little attention since it was recorded in 2013.

But it’s unclear how far — and to whom — Paul extends the argument that rights cannot be defined by behavior.

Practicing religion, for example, is a behavior enshrined as a primary American right. Free speech is behavior protected by the Bill of Rights. Likewise, a person’s right to be free from discrimination for his or her nation of origin — which entails the behavior of moving from one country to the United States — is embedded in America’s civil rights laws and broader code of values.

Does Paul believe those behaviors are protected rights?

Eleanor May, a spokesperson for Paul’s 2016 reelection campaign to the U.S. Senate, said the rights that count are those in the country’s founding charter. “What he is saying in this video is that he does not classify rights based on behavior, but rather recognizes rights for all, as our Constitution defines it,” May told BuzzFeed News.

“Sen. Paul is the biggest proponent for protecting the Bill of Rights, which, as you know, protects the rights of all Americans as stated in our Constitution,” May said.

The campaign did not reply to BuzzFeed News’ question seeking clarification on gay people’s rights not associated with their behavior.

Reports have shown gay people are the victims of persistent discrimination — perhaps most notably, in the workplace, as this Williams Institute report found — not because of any behavior they have engaged in, but for being gay or being perceived as gay. Of the 5,928 hate crimes reported by the FBI in December 2014, 20.8% were against people for their their sexual orientation, overwhelmingly in public places including streets, sidewalks, stores, schools, and public transit where victims are unlikely to be engaged in homosexual behavior.

This is not the only time Paul has commented on gay rights — not that he would call them that. Earlier in March, he said same-sex marriage “offends myself and a lot of people.” And last week, Paul argued same-sex marriage results from a “moral crisis” that will require “another Great Awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, ‘reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform.’”

Make the LGBT+ Community a Protected Class

Sadly, the only ways to fix what is happening in Indiana - repealing the law or declaring the LGBT+ community a protected class - Governor Mike Pence has already said aren't options.

More via NPR

A Short Break

Game of Thrones star Richard Madden about to make out with a dude in the short lived Sirens

See more at NewNowNext

I could watch this gif forever.

Using Religion to disguise Bigotry

Via New York Times Op-Ed

That claim [that the Indiana's Religious Freedom is not an attempt to discriminate but to empower people] is impossible to square with his [Indiana Gov. Pence] refusal to consider a statewide law protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination (about a dozen Indiana cities, including most of the largest ones, already have such laws). On Sunday, Mr. Pence said he agreed that it would be helpful to “clarify” the law’s intent, even though it is already perfectly clear. The freedom to exercise one’s religion is not under assault in Indiana, or anywhere else in the country. Religious people — including Christians, who continue to make up the majority of Americans — may worship however they wish and say whatever they like.

But religion should not be allowed to serve as a cover for discrimination in the public sphere. In the past, racial discrimination was also justified by religious beliefs, yet businesses may not refuse service to customers because of their race. Such behavior should be no more tolerable when it is based on sexual orientation.

Isn't a "Religious Freedom" law, by definition...

...against the First Amendment? I mean, the language is "prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion...."

Via the Herald-Leader's Kentucky.com

As a lifelong liberal Democrat, former state treasurer Jonathan Miller was very disturbed to hear about Indiana's recently signed religious freedom law, which opponents fear could be used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Basketball luminaries such as Charles Barkley have said the NCAA Final Four shouldn't be held in Indiana because of it, and NCAA President Mark Emmert said Monday that his Indianapolis-based group might have to rethink holding major events there.

But on Monday, Miller was still looking for tickets to UK's game against Wisconsin on Saturday in Indianapolis.

"As a good progressive and a good liberal, I live in a state with a religious freedom law," he pointed out. "It's quite disturbing, but I'd be a hypocrite if I boycotted Indiana when I don't boycott my home state."

Kentucky passed its religious freedom law two years ago to ensure that government action does not interfere with religious belief protected by the First Amendment.

It, too, was bitterly fought over, and even vetoed by Gov. Steve Beshear before legislators overwhelmingly overrode the veto.

That bill emerged after a group of Amish refused to place orange safety signs on the backs of their buggies, saying the rule infringed on their religious freedom. Opponents warned that the law might be used instead to legalize discrimination.

The law has not provoked a rash of lawsuits in Kentucky, said Martin Cothran, a senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky, which helped shepherd the law through the General Assembly in 2013.

"All these charges that the apocalypse is going to come once these laws pass, that has never happened," Cothran said.

But the law has been cited in an appeal of a long-running discrimination case in Lexington.

Last year, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission determined that Hands On Originals violated the city's fairness ordinance and discriminated against the Gay and Lesbian Services Organization of Lexington when it refused to print the group's Lexington Pride Festival T-shirts in 2012. The company argued that its Christian values disagreed with the T-shirts' message. The company appealed the commission's decision in Fayette Circuit Court last year.

The appeal, prepared by Jim Campbell, senior legal counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, in Scottsdale, Ariz., argues that the commission's ruling — including an order requiring company employees to undergo diversity training — puts too much of a government burden on the owner's deeply held religious belief, therefore violating the state law. The appeal also argues the commission did not prove "compelling governmental interest" in infringing on the owner's refusal to print the shirts.

That fight between state laws and local fairness ordinances will continue, experts say.

Kentucky and 19 other states have religious freedom laws; Kentucky also has seven cities with fairness ordinances — Louisville, Lexington, Vicco, Covington, Morehead, Frankfort and Danville. Indianapolis also has such an ordinance.

It's not clear whether the state law could be used to overturn a city ordinance or vice versa, said Joe Dunman, a Louisville attorney who is part of the legal team in Bourke vs. Beshear, the case attempting to strike down Kentucky's ban on same sex marriage that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

As Dunman pointed out, in neither Kentucky nor Indiana is it illegal to discriminate against gay people, but many religious freedom advocates worry that those states will someday enlarge their constitutions' civil rights protections to include sexual orientation.

Still, the religious freedom laws are not "get out of trouble free cards" for potential discriminators, Dunman said. Those people would have to prove "a substantial burden" on their religious freedom.

There's also a federal version of the religious freedom law, which has had a bigger effect. In a decision involving Hobby Lobby last year, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with the corporation that the federal health-care law's mandate for employers to provide birth control to employees would violate the company's religious freedom.

Amber Duke, spokeswoman for the ACLU of Kentucky, said the Indiana law seems like a reaction to the growing marriage equality movement. In the two years since Kentucky passed its religious freedom law, many courts have struck down same-sex marriage bans.

"As a country, we seem like we're in a different place than we were a couple of years ago," she said. "As marriage equality gains ground, there have been more religious freedom bills coming up in reaction."

But, she said, the vague language in most religious freedom bills will mean that courts ultimately decide whether state laws outweigh city fairness ordinances.

Chris Hartman, director of the Kentucky Fairness Campaign, said UK fans should feel fine about heading west to the Final Four.

"What we say to fans is go to Indianapolis, have fun and if you are the victim of discrimination, file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission there," he said. "We think the fairness rules would stand up even against the freedom of religious laws."

As for Miller, he hopes the religion of basketball can outweigh disputes over religious freedom.

"I really doubt that everybody who voted for this is prejudiced against gays and lesbians," he said of the laws in Kentucky and Indiana. "I think they wanted to take a strong stance for religious freedom. I don't think everyone intended to discriminate, but my great fear is that is the intent."

Image via Insider Louisville. Here I'm using the map which shows the counties that Mitch McConnell won and lost in the last election as a metaphor for the places that have Fairness Ordinances in the state (the blue) vs. the rest of the state.

You're an idiot.

Kentucky governor Steve Beshear via Politico

Recalling Virginia's rationale for banning mix-race marriage 50 years ago, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear says Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage isn't discriminatory because neither gays nor straights can get gay married.

Via the Courier-Journal:

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear says the state's ban on gay marriage should be upheld in part because it is not discriminatory in that both gay and straight people are barred from marrying people of the same gender.

In an argument labeled absurd by gay marriage advocates, Beshear's lawyer says in a brief filed last week at the U.S. Supreme Court that "men and women, whether heterosexual or homosexual, cannot marry persons of the same sex" under Kentucky law, making the law non-discriminatory.

The argument mirrors that offered by the state of Virginia nearly 50 years ago when it defended laws barring interracial marriage there and in 15 other states, including Kentucky, by saying they weren't discriminatory because whites were barred from marrying blacks just as blacks were barred from marrying whites.

The Supreme Court in 1967 rejected that argument in the historic case of Loving v. Virginia, in which Richard Loving, a white man, and Mildred Jeter, a black woman, were charged with a crime for marrying.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Hold Tight Gently

In December 1995, the FDA approved the release of protease inhibitors, the first effective treatment for AIDS. For countless people, the drug offered a reprieve from what had been a death sentence; for others, it was too late. In the United States alone, over 318,000 people had already died from AIDS-related complications—among them the singer Michael Callen and the poet Essex Hemphill.

Meticulously researched and evocatively told, The Battlefield of AIDS is the celebrated historian Martin Duberman’s poignant memorial to those lost to AIDS and to two of the great unsung heroes of the early years of the epidemic. Callen, a white gay Midwesterner who had moved to New York, became a leading figure in the movement to increase awareness of AIDS in the face of willful and homophobic denial under the Reagan administration; Hemphill, an African American gay man, contributed to the black gay and lesbian scene in Washington, D.C., with poetry of searing intensity and introspection.

A profound exploration of the intersection of race, sexuality, class, identity, and the politics of AIDS activism beyond ACT UP, The Battlefield of AIDS captures both a generation struggling to cope with the deadly disease and the extraordinary refusal of two men to give in to despair.